Why I Love Anglicanism but Can't be Anglican

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Justin Haskins, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    I love a great deal about Anglicanism. I love the ancient worship, the liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, the connection to the past, the emphasis on the sacraments, and many other things as well. But as much as I like the Anglican Church, I can't be Anglican.

    The reasons I can't be Anglican are not complicated or surprising, but they are, I think, a good example of the great struggle ongoing in American Anglicanism in general, which is why I want to share them. First, I can't be Anglican because I see the future of the Episcopal Church moving further and further away from Orthodox Christian teachings (and I am not talking about homosexuality). As the Church continues to lose conservative laity, clergy, and bishops to the ACNA and other denominations, the more liberal elements of the TEC will gain an even stronger foothold, continuing to alter everything that made the TEC great in the past. Further, because bishops pick bishops (and all the conservative bishops are leaving or have left) I don't see any hope in the future of conservative clergy being selected for leadership positions. In short, the system is designed to perpetually produce bishops who think like the bishops already in place, and since the bishops already in place are very liberal, it will be virtually impossible to reverse that. I look down the road 25 years from now and I see an even more liberal church than we see today, preaching a great deal of theological and social positions I simply cannot support, embracing abortion, attacking the sovereignty of Israel, etc..

    Secondly, the growing ACNA and other similar breakaway denominations may be expanding, but the future of these denominations is very much up in the air. I have no idea whether they will be able to maintain their unity, and even if they do, they simply don't exist everywhere. There are far less people in the ACNA than there are in the Eastern Orthodox churches in the United States, and that really says a lot considering how hard it can be for many people to find an EO parish. Even if the ACNA is here to stay, I don't currently live in a place (despite living in the major metropolitan city of Chicago) that has a regularly operating ACNA parish, and I just don't know if I ever will.

    Third, I don't mind a good debate or theological fight, but the TEC is getting more and more unwilling to allow those who disagree with its liberal positions to remain in the denomination. The TEC appears angry and almost vengeful towards those who respectfully disagree or want to leave in peace. This opinion is evidenced by the fact that the TEC has spent millions of dollars taking away church property from congregations who built them over the course of many years (sometimes even centuries). The TEC doesn't really want tolerance, unless it works in the favor of theological liberals. Orthodox Anglicans have to stay in line or get out. And if they don't, they will be forced out, their properties will be taken, and then in some cases, the property will be sold off (sometimes to people of completely different faiths), all while the original congregation which did nothing but follow its conscience is left without a church home.

    Fourth, the TEC isn't just about religion. It's as much a political club as it is anything else, and I totally disagree with its "politics." I don't support a radical redistribution of wealth against the will of the taxpayers, I don't believe that taking away the guns of law-abiding citizens makes us safer, I don't believe is radical environmentalism (although I do understand we need to protect nature in some way), and I don't believe that you should be demonized for being successful in life financially. Putting money on the collection plate on Sunday now means supporting liberal political special interest groups as well, and that just isn't something I want to do. I am not trying to argue the merits of those positions here (it is not the place for it), only to point out that the TEC is actively promoting even non-religious positions which I do not support.

    For all of these reasons, I cannot be Anglican. Theologically, I am already Anglican in many ways, but in practice, it just isn't possible without violating my conscience. The TEC is destroying American Anglicanism, and while I would love to see Anglicanism survive its onslaught, I just don't think it is possible. The ACNA and like-minded groups will always be around in some sense, but the days where Anglicanism actually played a major role in American life are, I fear, over.

    I am very thankful for all of the devoted members of this forum for the efforts in speaking with me over the past few weeks on this issue and many other issues of Anglicanism. It has been a pleasure and I will definitely continue to stick around and talk with all of you going forward in the future as a brother in Christ.
     
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  2. Holy Tare

    Holy Tare New Member

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    I am a member of the TEC and there is a VERY wide variety of opinions about just about everything and yet we all get along, worship together, work together and are friends. We do this because this is the way we want it to be, and God has given us the grace and strength to make it that way. I love my fellow parishioners who are Tea Party-ists just as much as the ones who are a gay couple and work with both of them on things from Bible Study to Altar Guild. Maybe I am just lucky, but it can be done. That is why I AM an Episcopalian.
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Justin as much as you proclaim your motives to be right and spiritual, the fact of the matter is that YOU approached joining a church as joining a social club: After all WHAT social club you join doesn't matter apparently, as long as it pursues the social agendas of your liking: All are the same and you don't care about belonging to the One Church of the ancient fathers, the Apostles, and founded by God. And if a social club starts to get uncomfortable, you don't seem to care much about theology and just join another one. It's all the same thing am I right?

    Then you proceed to blame others for not taking care of the church, when you don't care to take care of it either. Even if TEC had all the problems you say the ACNA is not an alternative for you, because you care about pharisaic values such as 'social importance', 'social standing', etc.

    If you're not willing to be persecuted like with the ancient martyrs, either in TEC or in ACNA at the outmost, then with conservatives like these, who needs liberals.
     
  4. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    I appreciate all of the responses and guidance as always.

    Stalwart,
    I appreciate your kindness and advice over the previous weeks. I believe your opinion of my views on the TEC are incorrect, obviously. I am not looking to be in a church that is a "social club" as you claimed. I don't expect any church to have the same opinions that I do on a whole host of issues. With that said, to be in the TEC, whether you want to admit it or not, it to financially support abortion and all of the other issues I mentioned above, plus more. It's not about personal disagreements, it's about financially supporting social and political causes I don't believe in.

    You say that the TEC is part of the ancient church, and in some respects it certainly is, but to suggest that supporting the numerous political causes the TEC does is somehow what the church fathers would have wanted is just crazy.

    Further, exactly what did I say that gave you the impression that I value "social importance" or "social standing?" Quite frankly, I don't value those things at all, especially not in my church. Given that I am 25 years old and every single one of my friends and most of my family is far more socially liberal than I, joining the TEC is EXACTLY what would increase my "social importance" and "social standing" amongst those of my same age. I fear that you speak very harshly of me because you have no idea what you are talking about. As I said very clearly, the reason the ACNA is not an option is because there are NONE HERE. I would have to drive 45 minutes away just to get to one. The other worries I have about ACNA are doctrinal...I don't know if they will stay together and if they do, what they will have to compromise on to do it.

    This has nothing to do with being "persecuted." I wouldn't be persecuted if I joined the TEC at all...The leadership in the TEC absolutely has mistreated many orthodox members, but I wouldn't likely face any "persecution" at all because I am not a clergyman, bishop, or leader within a parish. Further, I don't plan on trying to take a congregation out of their church. So again, I am not sure where you are getting this idea that I don't want to be apart of it because I don't want to be "persecuted."

    Finally, conservatives have already abandoned the TEC long ago. That's not my fault! Nor is it my fault that there is no hope now to recover it. The TEC is lost in terms of Christian orthodoxy...Even they know that! They don't want to be orthodox and that is fine for them. I am not looking for rigid orthodoxy either, but balanced Christianity is not going to exist in the TEC in 25 years. I suppose I could be wrong about that, but I believe all of the signs point in that direction.

    I do appreciate your words of wisdom and opinions. You are very knowledgeable in many ways but with all due respect, you will never win anyone over by hurling insults from a sinking ship.
     
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  5. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    I totally agree with you! I am not saying I want to worship with people who are all exactly like me. I am completely fine with sharing my spiritual life with those who think differently than I do. My wife is very liberal on a great deal of issues, so obviously I don't have a fear of trying to escape those who think differently. My concern is about personally having to fund it. Every single time the collection plate comes around, a portion of the money goes to the national church. The national church then uses the money to support causes which I believe to be wrong, and in some cases reprehensible. I don't want to fund causes I don't believe in, and I think that is a totally normal thing to want.

    The issue isn't about the people you worship with. You will notice I didn't mention anything about the laity in my post. I don't care about that at all. My concern is about the church leadership who, like it or not, are being supported and propped up every single time you go to a TEC church.

    I don't begrudge ANYONE who can settle his or her own conscience within the TEC, or any other church for that matter. In fact, I believe we are all bound closely by our faith regardless of the denomination. But the TEC's policies make it impossible for me to join. I won't financially support abortion. I can't do it. Perhaps you don't care about abortion, or maybe you support it, or maybe you care very passionately in opposition to it but you choose to put money in the collection basket anyway...Whatever you choose to do is fine with me. But my own conscience cannot allow it.

    As I said, the diversity in the TEC is actually very attractive to me. It's not the diversity that is the problem...it's that the liberal wing of the church is in complete control, is mistreating many orthodox parishes, and is progressively moving further and further away from the faith of the apostles. I know they believe they are doing the right thing, and I am not God so maybe they are! But based on the evidence I have seen, the TEC leadership is way off the mark and has abandoned the faith they once upheld so prominently. This isn't even about homosexuality; it's about the numerous other issues and problems in the church throughout the country.

    I admire much about the TEC, but if you think things are going to get better anytime in the next several decades, I think you are mistaken. The TEC is going to continue putting its political and social agenda first and God second.
     
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  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It absolutely is not. That is why our duty to the ancient church is to stay and force the liberals out. Cutting and running is precisely the disservice, dishonor and treason to the ancient fathers that you think you're preserving, by cutting and running. Because if you cut and run where do you go? To evangelical non-denoms? To the mary and works-worshipping Rome? This is the only church out there, and it's in the bad shape you say it is precisely because conservatives have cut and run. Sometimes because they think it's all the same no matter what church, or social club, they are in. Doesn't the theology matter, for God's sake?

    You value them here:

    In other words your distance from ACNA was not something that figured much in your account at the top at all. If that were your objection who could fail to understand it? But your objections were in the category of 'playing a major role'. If that were your motivation in the 1st century AD, wouldn't you be in the cult of Isis, rather than these haggard persecuted Christians tortured by the lions? Well we're tortured again. It has come to that again. But your lukewarm appreciation for Anglican things and quickness with fleeing, with indifference to belief, to social clubs that play 'major roles' in American life is what got me so upset.

    Do you understand that it's because of mindsets like yours that conservatives did leave the TEC and abandoned it to liberals?
     
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  7. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Stalwart,
    If my statement on the ACNA was confusing or unclear, I apologize. What I meant to say was what I have already said now many times. Anglicanism in the United States is dying. The ACNA is a good church. I don't agree with all that they do, but I agree with most of it. And I would gladly join an ACNA parish if one existed here. My point was, the ACNA does not exist everywhere and I don't think they will ever be as present across America as the TEC was at one time (and to some extent still is). I hope I am wrong about that, but I don't think I am. I wasn't suggesting I should be apart of a popular church or to join an organization that is well-liked. If that is what I was interested in, there are a lot of mega churches out there that fit that bill.

    I agree that conservatives leaving is what ruined the TEC. But when they left, there was a chance to turn things around. Now, there is no chance to turn things around. That is the difference. To stay in the TEC is to continue to prop up a movement you don't even believe in. That's how I feel about it. If conservatives had stayed when it was possible to fix things, then everything would have turned out differently. This is one of the reasons the United Methodist Church is turning itself around. Conservatives stayed and fought and now the tides have turned. The tides are not turning for the TEC...it's not possible. The liberal bishops control the church and they will never allow conservative bishops to take control. All the conservative laity left and joined other denominations. I understand why my statements would conjure up those frustrations from the past...But honestly, how can you blame me or anyone else at this point? You are asking people to join a church which doesn't teach orthodox Christianity in many parts of the country anymore and likely never will.
     
  8. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    If there is a good reason to join the TEC, what is it? I like a lot about the TEC, I really do...I would like to join...but why should I join knowing that for my whole life, they will likely never teach the faith that was passed down to them and will likely continue distorting orthodox Christianity?
     
  9. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Active Member

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    You're always upset.
     
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  10. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Member

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    We must all follow our conscience, brother Justin, and I respect your right to do so. In doing so, however, you become a part of the very problem you described so well above. By affiliating elsewhere, you deprive TEC of a conservative voice, hastening in even a small way the future you fear for TEC.

    The rub is that the so-called progressive movement (My, I hate that term for where is the progress?) is not isolated to TEC. Some are further up the pike than is TEC, some are lagging but headed in the same direction nonetheless. If not TEC, then where? Where will you take your stand to say, "I stand here to fight for what I believe?" Where?
     
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  11. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Hi Dark Knight,

    Thanks for posting again...and for agreeing with me of course. While I do think the TEC is lost, the comment made by Seeking.I.AM is 100% valid. I don't know where to go to be honest. I have some ideas, but nothing to really hang my hat on so to speak. Any ideas from your perspective? I have noticed I tend to agree with many of your posts so I would love to know what you think.

    -Justin

    Edited for continuity.
    -admin
     
  12. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    I totally and completely acknowledge that you make an exceptionally fair point here. It's an excellent question that I don't entirely have an answer to. The ACNA would be my choice if they were here but they aren't. I see a brighter future in the United Methodist Church because their organizational structure gives equal voting rights to their churches overseas, and those churches continue to show amazing growth (and thus incredible increases in representation at their general council), all while the more liberal parts of the denomination in the United States wastes away. Of course, I see many problems in the UMC as well. For one, there is a question of apostolic succession. Secondly, there are several theological problems I have with them since I tend to lean on the more High Church (almost Anglo-Catholic) side of the Anglican spectrum in terms of my theological beliefs. There is Eastern Orthodoxy, which is at least consistent and stable. Yes they have problems as well theologically (in my own humble opinion of course), but I know what I am getting into with them. I don't think I could ever be EO though because there are so few of them around that are purely English-speaking and because of the absolute rule of bishops and other theological problems as well (I won't go into everything here for the sake of time). Roman Catholicism is out for reasons I have stated on this forum before. Conservative Lutherans, such as LCMS, are out because they don't have apostolic succession and I do believe it is important (or, to be more accurate, I think it is POSSIBLE it is very important and therefore don't want to risk being in a non-apostolic church). I am very much opposed to much of Calvin's theology as it pertains to his view of predestination, which rules out conservative Presbyterians, and I believe very firmly in the Real Presence and the grace imparted from the sacraments. This effectively rules out virtually all Baptists, non-denominational churches, and everyone else who can be considered "Evangelical." So, with all of that said, I guess I am left with the TEC, UMC, ACNA (if they were around), and possibly the EO if I could get over a lot of the hurdles that exist there. Again, I honestly don't know. I wish I did...It's been a real problem for me.

    Honestly, the perfect church for me is, in many ways, the TEC of 50-60 years ago, before all of the craziness of the 1960s and 1970s.

    Look, I am not saying I have all the answers. I clearly don't. But what I do know is that I live in a country where I am blessed to have the choice of any religious church I believe to be most containing the true faith imparted to mankind by God. I may not know which church that is, and truthfully, I know I never will for sure. All I can do is apply my reason to the evidence before me to come to a reasonable conclusion. I owe God at least that, and using reason, morality, history, and my limited understanding of theology, I know that the TEC is not going in the right direction.

    I remember I took a Catholic theology class at Providence College when I graduated from high school, and the professor drew the word "God" in the center of the whiteboard with smaller circles placed all around it at varying distances from "God." Then the professor said, "It doesn't really matter where you start. You could be close to God to start or really far away...The important thing is that you are moving in the right direction, toward God. It's better to be moving in that direction from a great distance than being 'closer' to God but moving in the wrong direction or staying still." The theology of that statement may be questioned by some, but for me, it resonated. Using his analysis, the TEC is moving away from God, and I don't want to get caught up going in the wrong direction.
     
  13. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Posts disparaging of Anglicanism were removed. If you would like to spread those opinions you will have to find another forum for them. (This does not affect the main discussion.)
     
  14. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Member

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    Justin, your post well-describes the problem: Finding the perfect church is akin to finding a unicorn. Many people give up the search altogether. I urge you to keep the faith. Whatever body you pick, I wish for you to tolerate its imperfection. I wish for you, instead, to be able to focus on being the best Christian you know how to be wherever you may be worshipping. I wish for you to stand firmly for what you believe, even when others are swaying with the wind.
     
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  15. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Active Member

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    I'll send you a PM.
     
  16. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    I very much appreciate this...I need all the prayers I can get. I will absolutely continue to try to be the best person that I can be. I realize that the church does not necessarily make an individual a good Christian, but it certainly can help. Thank you for your support.
     
  17. Onlooker

    Onlooker Active Member

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    Another point of view is that the search to find the perfect church is a very N American phenomenon. Part of the free market attitude to religion. In the Old World there are many who are born into a faith, love it, see its imperfections, stay with it. Heavens, the biggest church in the world lives that way in Europe. Yes, tolerate imperfection. Sort of an Anglican watchword.
     
  18. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    That's true...It is a very American thing. I don't deny that at all. I didn't grow up Anglican though, so based on that logic, I should go back to the Catholic Church where I grew up, even though many of my beliefs technically forbid me from doing so based on their own canon law.
     
  19. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Additionally, you could certainly argue that your view is a better way to approach faith. But if that is the case, then aren't you just advocating for no religion really being more correct than any other one? Why would a Buddhist stop being a Buddhist if he or she was born into it?
     
  20. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    You and I are pretty much in the same boat. I have to drive over an hour to get to the nearest AMiA church, and the closest ACNA church is half again as far.
     

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